CANCER: The Uninvited Guest
JOY! PASSION! PEACE!
These aren’t words that normally come to mind when I think about cancer! But for all of you who have been inspired by what Bob refers to as his “Epic Adventure”, I know you have witnessed and been encouraged by his genuine joy and peace as he embraces his adventure with cancer.
What God is doing in Bob is truly inspiring and, simultaneously, challenging for all of us! So, thank you, friends, for ALL your friendship, love and prayers during this unexpected and crazy season of life!
A Pastor’s Wife Perspective:
Even though I’m a pastor’s wife and live in the “public eye” of the church community, I’m actually a fairly private person. I’m not in the habit of drawing attention to myself, emoting on Facebook or eliciting the sympathy of others. But, in light of Bob’s aggressive cancer diagnosis and the likelihood of losing him at younger age than expected, I’m often asked how I’m doing. So, I decided to share openly and honestly about his cancer and how I’m responding to it as his wife.
Hopefully my sharing will be an encouragement to you and anyone who reads it. So, if you’re interested, read on!
With no history of cancer in our families, neither Bob nor I ever expected to have to deal with this ugly, deadly and fear-inducing disease. Up until a few months ago, Bob really was the picture of total health! In fact, I envied him. Unlike me, he could eat whatever he wanted, he was in top physical shape and as the doctor put it, he had the “blood work of a 20 year old”!
So when he had his routine prostate exam this past March and had an elevated PSA, I wasn’t concerned at all! Bob had always told me that prostate cancer was the most treatable of all the cancers if it was caught early enough. However, after a round of antibiotics and a second PSA test, which yielded an even higher score, I became concerned. Clearly, something was wrong.
If you attend Crossroads Christian Fellowship, you probably remember the sermon Bob gave on the heels of his biopsy (A Righteousness From God – Romans 3:21-31). It was perfect timing with the perfect sermon illustration for Romans 3:21-31 where Bob compared the diagnostic value of a doctor in revealing cancer to the diagnostic value of the OT Law in revealing sin.
The order is always the same whether addressing the physical or spiritual arenas of life – symptoms, testing, diagnosis and prescribed remedy.
Those of you who attend our fellowship are witnesses of Bob’s FULLNESS of JOY as he shared his medical updates from week to week. Obviously, at the time, he didn’t know what the outcome would be but he was already trusting God completely!
Looking back now, the only way I can really describe all this is that God was anointing and preparing Bob for a special mission, and this was evident in his preaching.
I’ll never forget the day Bob informed me of his prostate biopsy results. What began as a sunny, beautiful afternoon walk at Lydgate Beach Park suddenly turned dark for me. His prostate was 95% saturated with aggressive cancer. I couldn’t sleep that night. I cried and cried and all I could think was, “My husband is dying. I’m going to lose my husband and he’s only 57.” I was especially concerned and grieved since my dad died at 57.
Over the next week or so, I wrestled with questions. Why would God allow this? I can see this happening to people who have a history of cancer, or who are older. Why would God allow a man of integrity, a godly man, to suffer cancer?
I can make sense of it when it happens to people who do bad, criminal things. But Bob? It seemed wrong to me — almost unfair.
My husband has served God faithfully for over 35 years. He’s a man of integrity who walks in the fear of the Lord. Faithful as a husband and dad. Faithful as an undershepherd of God’s people. Courageous and fearless.
Protecting, guarding and loving the Bride of Christ, but never afraid to take a biblical stand on important moral/ethical/doctrinal issues.
Committed to loving God, loving others and making disciples. Generous in raising up men in ministry and sending them off to plant churches or to do ministry elsewhere. Always doing what is biblical, right, true, kingdom advancing and God-honoring — frequently at great personal and professional cost. But now, cancer? It all seemed so wrong.
As we approached the Prostatectomy surgery date, I, along with all of you, fervently prayed that the cancer would be miraculously contained and taken out. Then we could go on with living.
Sadly, after surgery we got the news from our kind doctor that the cancer had spread to Bob’s bladder and had metastasized in his lymphatic system.
Disappointment of Unanswered Prayers:
I was SO disappointed that God didn’t answer my fervent prayers or the prayers of hundreds of others who love us. Sitting on the edge of Bob’s hospital bed, I found myself struggling again. It would’ve been so easy for God to answer that simple prayer. I didn’t want my husband to die.
Over the next few days, as I struggled with great disappointment, a few key truths greatly comforted me:
- God is sovereign. This one attribute has always encouraged me. Even though cancer caught me by surprise, it didn’t catch God unaware. We live in a fallen world filled with pain and suffering and, for whatever reason, God was allowing Bob to experience cancer.
- God is good. I’ve been walking with the Lord for a long time and I can testify to his goodness in our family’s life! I can trust Him as I walk through this.Even though we’re experiencing a bad thing, I can be assured that the Lord is my good Shepherd, watching over my life and our family. I know that God has the power to heal Bob in an instant and we’re continuing to pray for that. But even if God doesn’t heal Bob, the Lord is still my good Shepherd and will walk my sons and me through this valley.
- Content with cancer. I’ve drawn much encouragement from the modeling of apostle Paul who suffered so much for the cause of Christ. His imprisonment in Rome for preaching the gospel didn’t cause him to question God’s goodness, love or sovereignty.He didn’t spiral into depression or embark on a campaign to be freed. Instead, he used his platform of imprisonment to continue preaching the gospel as a “prisoner of Christ”.In writing the Philippians a thank you letter for their generous financial gift to him, he encouraged this relatively new church in Philippians 4:11-13 when he said, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”So, if Paul could be content in prison, with or without food, I can certainly learn to be content in dealing with cancer.
These important truths have served as an anchor for my soul. I’m also so grateful that God has filled Bob with such incredible joy and peace as he navigates the uncertainties of his aggressive cancer.
His excitement and enthusiasm have certainly made it much easier for me as his wife to surrender to God and embrace the new platform we have been given.
Joy Filled Epic Adventure With Cancer, The Uninvited Guest
I’ve been married to Bob for 30 years and I’ve never witnessed him this joyful and exuberant! When I think back to his medical updates on Sunday mornings (before the diagnosis) I remember how, with tears of joy, he shared he didn’t know what was going to happen but he’d use whatever platform God gives him to share the gospel, encourage the saints and advance God’s Kingdom! (A Righteousness from God on Youtube).
Bob certainly is using the platform of cancer for God’s glory and is LOVING every minute of it!
He thrives on the divine appointments God gives him every day and has so much supernatural joy pointing people to Christ and praying for them! It’s clear that God has anointed him for this special mission. And the mission isn’t conquering cancer, although we’d love to see him live as long as possible.
His mission is pointing others to a Savior who loves them. And, now, we’re on this mission together as a couple and as a family! God’s given my sons and me many divine appointments where we’ve been able to share about Bob’s cancer and encourage others in their pursuit of knowing and loving God.
Learning to Trust:
So, I’m learning to trust our sovereign and good Shepherd, rejoicing in each new day we have together, embracing this new cancer platform, continuing to serve the Lord and looking for opportunities to share the goodness of God with others. And this has truly filled me with God’s supernatural joy and His peace – a peace that surpasses all understanding and a peace that is guarding my heart and mind through Christ Jesus day by day as I walk hand in hand with my Savior (Phil 4:4-7)!
Be sure to check here often as we continue to share “Bob’s Epic Adventure”